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So you’re trying to eat healthfully.  You’re cooking at home with a lot of fruits and vegetables, and are buying local and organic produce when possible. But it seems you still need to purchase packaged foods every once in a while. When you do so, you’re opting for the foods labeled as being “All-Natural.” We applaud your efforts.

But do you really know that what you’re getting is healthier, more wholesome, and truly more natural?

See, there is no standardized definition of “natural” when it come to food labeling. The Food and Drug Administration has largely avoided formally defining the term in a way that helps guide consumers in today’s processed-food-induced world.

The truth is, the FDA does not allow that foods be labeled as “natural” if they contain synthetic substances or color additives (such as Red No. 40, that has been shown to exacerbate ADD and ADHD symptoms) which is a good start. However, foods containing altered substances like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated oils, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and even meat from cloned animals can, in fact, still be labeled as being “natural.”

This is a problem.

For starters, the average consumer believes this product is healthier than the non-”natural” product they just passed over. We could him-and-haw over which scientific studies back the claims that HFCS and GMOs are unhealthy, but suffice to say that these products are not naturally found in nature;  they need great amounts of energy, industry, and human modification in order to exist. These altered substances that do not occur nature are therefore not natural, and their affect on our health is questionable at best. (And really, even if they were naturally found in nature, not everything that is natural is edible… arsenic is one substance that comes to mind.)

Secondly, food manufactures can, in many cases, charge the customers more for the exact same product now with a “natural” label. Consumers are being duped into thinking they’re buying a healthier product, and are shelling out more money for it. In reality, they’re getting the same product, and one that isn’t very healthy to begin with.

So at the very least, “natural” labeling is misleading and at the very most, it threatens to introduce toxic substances into otherwise unsuspecting persons.

So when you go purchase “natural”‘ products, consider that this term really doesn’t mean much, and opt for products that do not actually necessitate labels or health claims of any kind.





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